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Things I Have Learned

Things I Have Learned About Sci Fi By Neil McAdams Of Black Breath
Toby Cook , May 8th, 2012 08:09

Just stop dicking about and get into sci-fi, says Neil McAdams to Toby Cook. Some of it is about the survival of the human race, and some of it is about humanoid-ant hybrid detective stories

Lurid book covers drag you in

What drew me to sci fi? Lurid covers – what else! And, I guess, the possibilities of a future different from our own. I picked up a copy of Arthur C. Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey [based on his 1948 short story The Sentinel] and then systematically read everything I could find that he had written and then things kind of snowballed. That was, like, 16 years ago.

Sci-Fi is not ‘geeky'

It's kind of a serious thing. Well not all of it. Surfing Samurai Robots isn't serious, but books like We by the Russian novelist [Yevgeny] Zamyatin or War With The Newts by Karel Capek are very serious and deal directly with totalitarian control systems and the collapse of the human species. Any science fiction regarding extra-solar colonization is extremely useful, as are ones about sex and alien space babes. I'd consider myself to be more of a ‘nerd' than a ‘geek', the only real sci-fi things I own are books and some VHS tapes; I have quite a few of those!

Fuck mainstream horseshit!

People are illiterate, that's the bottom line. Read Radio Free Albemuth by [Philip K.] Dick, it may hold the answer. And besides, science fiction should be subversive. Most TV or film sci-fi is really just action movies with aliens. But ‘real' sci-fi is about all kinds of things. It's in a large sense like cultural anthropology; it deals with any and all things human (and alien) – it's about us.

It's obvious why Philip K. Dick is the best known sci-fi author in the mainstream

Because he's fucking crazy! Read VALIS, The Three Stigmata Of Palmer Eldritch, or Martian Time-Slip for starters. I can only say that I'm glad he had found some kind of recognition in the U.S., you know like 30 years after his death – he's been well respected and popular everywhere else for decades.

And here are five others you should be getting into:

Dick is up there with the best, but you can't ignore William S. Burroughs, James Tiptree Jr (or Alice Sheldon, to use her real name), Philip Jose Farmer (read Image Of The Beast) and Arthur C. Clarke – they all write very dark, very sexy, very fucking twisted shit.

I don't give a shit about the Total Recall remake

The original short, We Can Remember It For You Wholesale, is nothing like the movie, it's only the springboard, or an outline of what happens in the film.

Predator 2's not bad though, I guess

But Femalien and Femailen 2 are also pretty rad.

You might not know this, but I write sci-fi stories

I cover all sorts of shit: Diarrhoea time loops, centi-penis's, humanoid-ant hybrid detective stories, robots fishing, robo-sexualism, goat-priest paedophiles, ape molesting deities, sex-world… you know, the usual kind of erotic speculative fiction. But why do I do it? That's a strange question to answer. Why do people pursue essentially useless, masturbatory hobbies? I don't know. There's too much bullshit in my head, and it has to go somewhere, right?

You might not think it, but it actually fits in pretty well with what I do with Black Breath

There is no need to reconcile anything, science fiction is an extremely dark genre and there is plenty of occult sci-fi – I read a lot of both, I don't restrict my interests.

Not already in to sci-fi?

Then get into it!